Foundations of Morality
This module is compulsory for students taking the MA in Ethics, as a foundational disciplinary module, but is accessible to students undertaking other MAs in the CTF, who wish to consider ethics as element of their programme approach.
This module will introduce the students to different ways of thinking about moral matters and dilemmas within normative philosophical ethics. It will inquire into such questions as ‘what makes an act right or wrong and the human being good or bad?’; ‘how should one live?’ (a Socratic question), ‘what is the good life? (an Aristotelian question), ‘how do we assess difficult moral situations?’; ‘where our principles come from?’; ‘why be moral?’, ‘do moral facts exist?’; ‘what does moral living require of us, both as human beings and within our specific social, professional and vocational roles?’.
In searching for answers the students will consult moral theories which are usually grouped into three broad categories: deontological (concerned with acts that fulfil our duties), teleological (concerned with the consequences of our acts; utilitarianism is its best-known representative), and virtue-centred (focused upon the formation of good character with the virtues as its traits). The students will be helped to think in an informed and structured way about the meaning, role and patterns of moral reasoning and decision making within deontology, teleology, and virtue ethics.
The module will be interdisciplinary, engaging with neuroscience and artificial intelligence. These approaches to ethical thinking will be set in dialogue with other themes for investigation, including: major influences on ethical debate (relativism; theistic and non-theistic approaches; science); conscience; human rights; law and morality.
Assessment will be by one 6,000 word assignment.